Notes: Action heats up in bullpen

Notes: Action heats up in bullpen

PHOENIX -- Without fail, baseball people will tell you that the two main keys to pitching success are location and movement.

Put the ball where you want it, with some sharp cutting or fading action, and you'll get outs. Even if you don't throw hard.

But what scouts call "plus" velocity has its place, and for the first time in several years, the A's bullpen will feature a few guys who have it.

"The thing about velocity," A's manager Bob Geren said before the morning workout Monday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, "is that if you have a lot of it, you might be able to get away with missing a spot by a little or lacking a lot of movement. Velocity alone won't get it done, but if you have location, movement and you throw real hard, that's a nice little package."

The addition of hard-throwing lefty Alan Embree, the rapid development of righty Chad Gaudin, and the much-improved health of righty Jay Witasick leave Oakland with plenty of power options to complement the finesse of Justin Duchscherer and Kiko Calero.

"We've got some temperature down there now, absolutely," A's pitching coach Curt Young said. "And that could change the way you manage the bullpen. If you see that [the other team] has some guys coming up who maybe don't handle the plus fastball so well, you might go with a Gaudin-type instead of Kiko or Duke."

Gaudin said his fastball has been clocked as high as 97 mph, but Young said he typically works closer to 92-94. Embree and Witasick regularly register between 93-95 on the radar.

"It's not something we've had a lot of here, and you do get a little jealous sometimes when you see a team like the Tigers bringing in guys who go 97, 98, 99," Geren said. "But it's not something we talked about going into the season. It's not like we sat down and said, 'We need some gas.'

"It's nice to have options, though. The more, the better."

Duke update: Geren on Monday confirmed that Duchscherer has tendinitis, saying that it's in his triceps, right above the right elbow.

It's the same ailment that cost him 43 games last season, and he won't start throwing again for at least a couple of days, but Geren downplayed it.

"We're just being cautious," he said. "The way we use him, he's a one-inning guy, so it's not like a starter getting shut down and you're worried about him having enough time to get ready. We've got plenty of time to get Duke his innings once he's back throwing.

"It's not a big deal."

Spring Training
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Game notes: The A's broke out a lineup chock full of big-league regulars for their first meeting of the year against the Angels, but it didn't produce much for the first four innings at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Dan Johnson's solo homer in the fifth got the club untracked, however, and Nick Swisher's three-run homer in the sixth made a game of what had looked like a potential blowout.

The starters -- Jason Kendall, Shannon Stewart, Milton Bradley, Mike Piazza, Eric Chavez, Swisher, Mark Ellis, Johnson and Marco Scutaro -- came out of the game en masse after the top of the sixth. Chavez had the best day among them, with a pair of doubles.

"Their pitching is their strong suit," Geren said of the Angels. "They have one of the best rotations in the league. They're gonna be tough. They've got a good team over there."

The A's, down 5-0 early in part because of two errors that led to three unearned runs, came back to win, 8-7, when Travis Buck doubled and scored on a single by Erubiel Durazo in the top of the ninth. Marcus McBeth worked a perfect bottom half for the save.

"He goes right after guys," Geren said of McBeth. "He looked fearless. I like that young guy."

Dribblers: Bobby Crosby again took part in every phase of the full-squad workout, but he's not expected to play in any games until next week at the earliest. Before making his Cactus League debut, he'll probably face some of Oakland's work-needy hurlers in controlled live BP sessions. ... The A's have several pitchers who need to get some work in, so they're looking to schedule a B game or two. The one scheduled for Monday morning at Scottsdale Stadium was cancelled because a flu bug left the Giants undermanned. ... Geren said he was told that Rich Harden's fastball was gunned at 97 by several radar guns Sunday during his dominant two-inning, five-strikeout performance against the Padres. One gun had him at 98. ... Mark Kotsay (back) saw another doctor Monday morning, and Geren was told that more tests will be done on Kotsay on Tuesday. "I want to know as bad as you guys," Geren told reporters. "But I don't know a lot." ... Forbes Magazine has released its rankings of the best general managers in all of professional sports, and Oakland's Billy Beane is No. 1 among baseball's GMs but 26th overall.

Up next: Righty Joe Blanton will make his first start of the spring Tuesday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium as the A's play host to the Royals, who plan to start righty Brian Bannister. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. MT. Blanton has been slightly behind the rest of the starters since reporting to camp as the result of some minor shoulder soreness that popped up late in the offseason.

Mychael Urban is a national writer for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.